Hoodie Allen • Happy Camper • Hoodie Allen, LLC • Release Date: 1.22.16
Who couldn’t use some Hoodie Allen in their lives? Allen returns with his latest album mixtape Happy Camper. Does Happy Camper make the listeners who partake ‘happy campers?’ Yes. If he does nothing else, Hoodie Allen maintains consistency on this 10-track affair. Is Hoodie on? Yes, he’s ON.
“Intro to Anxiety” kicks Happy Camper off with ample energy. Allen’s flow is as agile as ever, as he throws lyrical punches like it’s nothing. Furthermore, his singing – the pop rap element to his style – is on-point as it has been through the course of his efforts ranging from EP All American and 2014’s full length LP, People Keep Talking.
While “Intro to Anxiety” is a fine tone setter, “Are U Having Any Fun?” (featuring Meghan Tonjes) is the “cat’s meow.” Well produced – that dusty soul beat and the electric piano though – Allen has a spirited backdrop to spit over. And spit Allen does, picking right up from the electric flow that made the intro captivating. Tonjes’ supportive pipes only enhance the overall ambience.
“Remind Me Of” shows no drop-off, only raising the bar to the next level. Sure, lyric “ooh this s**t remind me of” may not be the most profound lyric ever, but it certainly is memorable. Even better is when the lyric gets choral treatment – let the church say YAASSSS! Yep, it’s safe to say Allen’s s**t is ON!
Good things happen with an ostinato piano line. Case in point? “So Close to Happiness.” No need to “apologize for being a dickhead” in your twenties Hoodie when the consistency remains impeccable. Sick rhymes, catchy sung hook, and more terrific production – what more can the listener ask for?
“Yo, I don’t really need a backup plan / I’m looking in the mirror like, god damn / it’s an attractive man.” Yep, that’s swag, and “Too Invested” is chock-full of it…well, not exactly. “Two Invested” references a dysfunctional relationship where Allen has made plenty of mistakes, which he admits. “Girl, here’s another question, is that alright? / I was doing bad things, but I ain’t never been arrested / put the money in the bank, girl, I ain’t never too invested.”
On “Surprise Party” featuring Blackbear, it’s safe to say that Hoodie and the girl referenced in the song enjoy sex. Allen raps on the second verse, “Yo, I woke up feeling like my life was excellent / she jumped on top of me like ‘let’s have sex again’ / this ain’t no investigation, I don’t even question it / I’m the type to inspire your girl to get undressed again.” Blackbear confirms the ‘thirst’ you might say on the hook: “We could start on the bed, end up on the floor / f**k in every room, girl, I’ll give you a tour.”
“Make You Feel” featuring Ricky Smith contrasts the carnal, most pronouncedly on the second verse as Allen spits, “Never wanna be one of those dudes that ended up on the local news / I never wanna leave you black and blue, I mean emotionally…” That said, Allen, whose wordplay is just ‘silly’ here, does throw some entendre. “Champagne and Pools” brings Blackbear back along for the ride, as well as Super Duper Kyle. The sound is chill thanks to the production work. It’s not necessarily the best of the best, but definitely worthwhile.
“25th Hour” arguably takes tops in the production department (Jared Evan), again looking back to soul as its inspiration and benefitting from sounding slightly off beat (intentionally). Going solo for the first time in a couple of tracks, Allen ensures you know he’s a boss. “King to Me” concludes Happy Camper in touching fashion as Allen pays ode to his father. The hook and the harmonic progression throughout are exceptional.
Ultimately, Happy Camper is another consistent, well-rounded album from Hoodie Allen. Everything seems to fit – rhymes, production, and guest artists. Maybe Happy Camper isn’t the definitive or most memorable affair of the year, but it’s definitely worth the spins.
Favorites: “Are U Having Any Fun?” “Remind Me Of,” “So Close to Happiness,” “25th Hour”